By RICK RYAN
Avery Lee did his senior year in an unforgettable high school basketball uniform.
The Wheeling Park senior has 16.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. He’s also had eight games of 20 or more points, while shooting 87% from the foul line to break the school record for consecutive free throws made with 37.
His stats, along with his leadership, have earned him the second all-state team chosen by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
Brooke’s Cole Sperlazza joined Lee in the second team, which helped turn Brooke’s basketball team into one season.
Sperlazza has recorded 20 points, 6.5 assists and 4.1 steals per game and will be ready to continue what he started next year as a senior.
George Washington has got plenty of miles from his senior guards this season. In return, they helped the Patriots negotiate the route to another state championship.
Mason Pinkett and Alex Yoakum, who provided the bulk of the scoring and intangibles for GW, were recognized for their efforts by each being selected to the first team of the inaugural class AAAA All-State squad.
They led the Patriots to their third title since 2011 and fourth overall in the program.
Other first team mates included the duo of Carson Poffenberger and Luke Bechtel of finalist Morgantown, as well as William Gabbert (Greenbrier East), Ben Gilliam (Woodrow Wilson), Chandler Schmidt (Cabell Midland) and Doryn Smith (Martinsburg).
All are seniors except Schmidt, who is junior.
Yoakum has averaged 20.2 points and Pinkett 17.6 as they have combined 31 of GW’s 42 double-digit scoring efforts in games this season. But points weren’t the whole story for either of the 6-foot-2 guards.
Pinkett, who was selected as the first team captain, managed 3.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals and shot 77% on free throws while earning a reputation for being the one of the team’s best defenders. Yoakum, who nearly doubled his 10.6 point average as a junior, also averaged 2.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and shot 81% off the foul line and 40.2% on 3. points.
GW coach Rick Greene acknowledged the contributions Pinkett and Yoakum made on and off the floor for a program that went 17-1 and sported five subclasses in its normal playing rotation.
âThere is no doubt,â said Greene, âwhen you start with a backcourt like that and go through a season like we just had it, where the season could stall for 10 days without even really having a preseason. I know a lot of coaches have felt this. I know I felt like we were in great shape and it’s important in our section with the games that we have, to have two senior guards that are equally versatile. It was important.
âI always thought we had the best backcourt, and that’s not disrespecting the others. But both could run to the point and play defense and score. They were so complete and complemented each other. If Mason was hot, Alex looked at him. If Alex was hot, Mason would try to find him. And they just didn’t work well with each other. They just wanted to win and the way they played together was extremely selfless. And it showed that they both benefit from it, and we have benefited as a team.
GW has won 36 of 42 games in the past two seasons, winning two Mountain State Athletic Conference championships and taking the No. 3 seed (in 2020) and the No. 2 seed (in 2021) at the tournament. of state. Last year’s state tournament was canceled due to COVID-19.
Morgantown, who fell to GW 47-46 on a last-second shot in the title game, was also able to maintain his status as one of the state’s top programs, going 18-2 and getting the No. 1 seed in the state tournament. Both senior 6-7 Poffenberger and 6-3 Bechtel were as reliable as they come for the Mohigans and their attack balanced.
Poffenberger averaged 12.9 points and 4.1 rebounds and shot 77% from the foul line. In three state tournament games, he donated 43 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Bechtel has averaged 12 points and five rebounds this season and shot 40% from 3 points. In three games at the state tournament, he had 31 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
âCarson and Luke are two of the most prestigious guys we’ve had,â said Morgantown coach David Tallman. “They’re just really great people and I’m really proud of them, especially for everything we’ve been through this year with COVID, like everyone else in the state. To continue to stay with us, I am proud of them.
Bechtel has undergone not one, but two ACL surgeries during his Mohigans career – one as a rookie and the other the summer before his junior season.
âHe actually tweaked one of those ACLs in the last game of the regular season,â Tallman said, âand he emptied it at the time of the tournament. It was pretty amazing.
Here is a capsule of the other selections of the first team:
Gabbert – A transfer from GW, he helped the Spartans go 10-4 and reach the Region 4 co-finals averaging 20.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1, 5 interceptions. He shot 47% overall, 44% in 3 points and 83% in free throws.
Gilliam – He played a big role as the Under .500 Flying Eagles started a late season push, taking five straight wins to make it to the state tournament. Gilliam scored 20 points as Woodrow passed South Charleston 49-43 in the regions. He averaged 13.1 points and 13.2 rebounds and shot 59%.
Schmidt – First-mate for the second straight season, the junior guard brought the Knights back into the tournament state averaging 19.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.0 steals. He was a second-team selection as a rookie.
Smith – He was the top scorer for a balanced Bulldogs team that scored 15 straight wins and reached the semi-finals of the state tournament before losing to future champion GW. Smith averaged 15.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists, shot 48 percent from the ground and had 30 deflections in defense.
The captain of the second team is Bryson Singer (Parkersburg). The other second-team mates are Jack Bifano (Bridgeport), Bailee Coles (Greenbrier East), Ryan Hurst (Buckhannon-Upshur), Ryan Niceler (University) and Amare Smith (Huntington).
CLASS AAAA TEAM
Name School Ht. Cl.
Luke Bechtel Morganotown 6-3 Sr.
William Gabbert Greenbrier East 6-3 Sr.
Ben Gilliam Woodrow Wilson 6-5 Sr.
Mason Pinkett (Captain) George Washington 6-2 Sr.
Carson Poffenberger Morgantown 6-7 Sr.
Chandler Schmidt Cabell Mindland 6-1 Jr.
Doryn Smith Martinsburg 6-3 Sr.
Alex Yoakum George Washington 6-2 Sr.
Jack Bifano Bridgeport 6-6 Sr.
Bailee Coles Greenbrier East 6-3 Sr.
Ryan Hurst Buckhannon Upshur 5-9 Sr.
Avery Lee Wheeling Park 5-10 Sr.
Ryan Niceler University 6-3 Sr.
Bryson Singer (captain) Parkersburg South 6-3 Jr.
Amari Smith Huntington 6-4 Sr.
Cole Sperlazza Brooke 6-4 Jr.
Josh Arthur, Riverside; Carson Dennis, Parkersburg; Derrick Derrow, John Marshall; Mitchell Duez, Bridgeport; Brooks Gage, Morgantown; Beau Heller, Wheeling Park; Jake Hoggsett, South Parkersburg; Jordan Holmes, Musselman Isaiah Horner, Musselman; Anthony Hurst, capital; Alex Isinghood, Brooke; DJ Johnson, South Charleston; Nas’jaih Jones, hurricane; Elijah King, Hedgesville; Maddex McMillen, Woodrow Wilson; Ben Nicol, George Washington; Corbin Page, Spring Valley; Ethan Parsons, Princeton; Jacob Perdue, Oak Hill; Alex Polland, Morgantown; Keon Padmore-Johnson, Spring Mills; Dwayne Richardson, Woodrow Wilson; Drew Reed, St. Albans;
DJ Saunders, Wheeling Park Adam Seams, Greenbrier East; Will Shively, Jefferson; KK Siebert, Cabell Midland; Anthony Smith, Martinsburg; Daion Taylor, Jefferson Cyrus Traugh, South Parkersburg; Lay Wilborn, Princeton